BEIRUT, Lebanon — Turkey launched airstrikes and fired artillery across its border into northeastern Syria on Wednesday to open a military operation aimed at flushing out an American-backed militia, Turkish and Syrian officials said.
Turkish television stations broadcast video of fighter jets taking off, Howitzers firing and smoke rising from Syrian towns, while images posted on social media showed Syrians fleeing in trucks piled high with their possessions and children. Two civilians were killed and others were wounded, a militia spokesman and a local journalist said.
Turkey’s long-planned move to root out United States-allied Kurdish forces in northeastern Syria has accelerated rapidly since President Trump gave the operation a green light in a call with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey on Sunday.
The operation could open a dangerous new front in Syria’s eight-year-old war, pitting two United States allies against each other and raising the specter of sectarian bloodletting. Even before it began, it had set off fierce debates in Washington over Mr. Trump’s Syria policy.
The United States withdrew from 50 to 100 troops from the border area in advance of the operation, and American military officials said that the United States was not providing assistance to either side.